Category Archives: Skype

Bing Offers Group Check-In App for Windows Phone 7

Microsoft’s Bing mobile search team launched a group check-in application called We’re In to play in the group communications space with Google, Facebook and others.

When it comes to socially oriented mobile applications, Facebook and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) tend to be among the leaders in mind and market share.

Facebook just launched Facebook Messenger, and Google+ includes Hangouts and Huddle apps.

Microsoft wants to play there as well via Bing. The company launched We’re In, an application for Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphones that lets users invite their friends to share their location and post status updates.

While Foursquare, Facebook Places and Latitude offer check-in capabilities for individual users, We’re In is a group check-in application for friends who want to find each other within crowds. When invitees join, they agree to share their location with other Windows Phone 7 users via Bing Maps.

Users must provide their mobile phone numbers to sign up and then must pick friends or enter phone numbers from their WP7 contacts. The users then tell their friends what the plan is and how long they want to share location info for the proposed meet-up.

Invitees receive a text message with these details, and they may then use the app to join the person who invited them. Users of phones other than WP7, such as iPhone or Android handsets, needn’t worry about being left out.

Those users will also receive a text from We’re In and may join from the mobile Website via the invite. However, the Bing mobile team is also working to port We’re In as a native app for other platforms.

When friends join the We’re In meet-up, their locations surface on the Bing Map, with everyone who joined able to see everyone else’s location.

We’re In users may also update their status to let friends know that they’re on their way or are running late, among other details. We’re In’s People tab aggregates the status messages of everyone who has joined the meet-up.

Bing has decent privacy measures in place so that users aren’t letting themselves be tracked by friends all of the time. For example, when the invite expires, the shared location does as well. Users may also stop sharing their location info at any time by tapping “leave” on the People tab.

Group communications services are becoming increasingly popular. Skype, the VOIP company being acquired by Microsoft, has just purchased group messaging service GroupMe. Facebook purchased group chat specialist Beluga and launched a Facebook Messenger group chat application based on those company’s assets.

The Google+ social network launched with Hangouts for group videoconferencing and Huddle group messaging for handsets.

Clearly, Bing is eager to grab a piece of this action for its nascent WP7 platform. With a group check-in model, Bing has a fresh approach compared to those companies. Perhaps the app can eventually provide some rewards for users who check in to group meetings and places first.

It’s unclear whether the difference will appeal enough to users to boost user engagement, both of Bing’s mobile search and WP7.



Tags: , , , , , ,

Skype VP Hints at Deeply Integrated Windows Phone App

It’s no secret that Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Skype, still pending European regulatory approval but passed U.S. approval, will result in more Microsoft products with Skype integration, and in particular Windows Phone. New Windows Phone 7 Mango devices that will be released this Fall are expected with front-facing camera, and Skype may fill the role of being the video chat provider once it begins to work with Microsoft in delivering a deeply integrated experience on the mobile Windows Phone operating system, according to Skype Vice President Neil Stevens.

Though Skype already has a number of video chat apps for various other mobile platforms, including HP’s webOS, Google’s Android OS, and Apple’s iOS platforms, Stevens says that Skype for Windows Phone 7 will be an entirely different experience than that on rival mobile operating systems. Once the acquisition gains the necessary approval in Europe, Skype and Microsoft can begin collaborating, and when Skype becomes an embedded division within Microsoft’s empire, it will be granted deep OS-level access to Windows Phone. This way, Skype won’t feel like a separate app, but will feel like part of the phone experience.

Stevens highlights that the experience, and also the performance of Skype, will surpass that of current Skype experiences on iOS and Android. On the Apple platform, the company doesn’t allow third-party apps like Skype to have access to the video processor or address book. On Android, Google allows apps access to the address book, but not the video processor. Perhaps this is a big reason why Skype is only slowly rolling out video chat functionality slowly to few Android handsets at a time because of the disparate nature of various video processors and graphics engine in different Android phones.

Because of Microsoft’s unified ‘chassis’ build–which the Redmond, Washington software company says is their suggested minimum hardware requirements–Windows Phone will have a more unified hardware across various different phones spanning all phone manufacturers. That means that just one or two builds of Skype will work on all devices as all devices are required to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, unlike Android’s plethora of hardware builds.

Hopefully, with an integrated Skype experience, Windows Phone users can begin making video calls as easily as they can make voice calls and chat on Skype will be as natural as sending an SMS. With Microsoft pushing for both the consumer and enterprise customers, this will be a big selling point for the nascent OS.


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Android, Mango, Microsoft, Skype, WP7


Tags: , , , , , , ,